It is being reported that Barcelona Football Club is in huge financial distress and are appealing to banks and creditors to delay repayments. The club is facing bankruptcy if they are unable to lower their wage bill, or generate considerable revenue, soon.
Marca has revealed that Barcelona’s debts inflated significantly between June 2019 and June 2020, rising from €217 million (around R4 billion) to €488 million (around R9 billion) in a year. The club has offloaded players with high wages, including Nélson Semedo, Arthur Melo and Ivan Rakitić, while also bringing in €80 million (around R1.5 billion) from their sales. Luis Suárez, who earned significant wages at Barça, has also left the club to join current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Long-standing Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, left the club due to the position they find themselves in. Interim president, Carlos Tusquets has revealed to RAC1, a Spanish radio station, that the club has been unable to pay players their pre-agreed January wages. He further admitted that the squad’s salaries take up 70% of the club’s total budget.
Barcelona’s presidential candidate, Victor Font, has revealed to Diario AS just how dire the situation is, “Barça is practically in a situation of economic bankruptcy. Technically, it is bankrupt. This situation puts the ownership model at risk.” He went on to explain, “The structural decisions must be made at the economic level. The wage situation is critical, and it is something the board should be addressing.”
One player who seems to hold the key to easing the Catalan club’s financial turmoil is their talisman, Lionel Messi. The Argentine has been linked with a move away from the Camp Nou over the last few transfer windows, but nothing has come of it. It is estimated, on Football Leaks, that Messi earns €1.1 million (around R20 million) per week. The only clubs who seem to be able to take on the 33-year-old’s wages are Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
At Manchester City, Messi would be reunited with long-time coach and former Barcelona man, Pep Guardiola. The move would make sense to both sides, as Barcelona would ease their wage bill significantly, while Manchester City would get a proven champion who could take them to their first-ever UEFA Champion’s League crown. Guardiola has been in contact with Messi, telling him, “if you’re really leaving, we’re interested.”
Alternatively, Messi could join his former teammate, Neymar, at PSG. The prospect of rejoining Neymar has always intrigued Messi, and the appointment of fellow Argentine, Mauricio Pochettino, as PSG coach will be another factor that could lure the legend to the French capital. Messi’s international teammate, Leandro Paredes, has also said, “It’s natural that everyone wants Messi on their team, but it’s the role of [sporting director] Leonardo and the president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi] to make the decision to convince him to join us.”
Whether or not Messi leaves the club he has been part of since 2001, the club needs to address their financial concerns. The club needs to eradicate €420 million (around R7.8 billion) by the end of the year, which will be a monumental task, even for a club that predicted bringing in €1 billion (around R18 billion) for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons. The footballing world is holding its breath, waiting on the final outcome of one of the world’s biggest clubs.